Sunday, 27 June 2010

The beautiful flag

Britain’s once again under the spotlight in the sporting fixtures, which, translated into fashion terms, equates to the Great British flag (and all parts thereof). Our little island’s colours are appearing everywhere, as flags are waved for the vehemently revered football and tennis stars of this quirkily sportsmanlike state.

Just a week ago, at Royal Ascot, flags and patriotic colours were very much in evidence on hats, dresses, accessories - and even picnic floral displays, as England played their rather disappointing game against Algeria.

Now, of course, the mood is altogether different – and even Andy Murray’s won at Wimbledon. Let’s see how England fares today...

And, if our need to sport the Union Jack should sadly wane, there’s always the chance that a royal wedding is in the offing, to keep the demand for flags buoyant...

I rather fancy that bits of memorabilia and mementos of our glittering past, like this 1981 vintage royal commemorative tin from ShopCurious, could become extremely popular and desirable in future, as curiously collectable heirloom pieces - and to remind us of our peculiarly unique heritage:

being such good old sports...

Are you?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

British tea time treasures

Here in the UK, we’re currently suffering from stresses and strains on all fronts:

Firstly, if you’re an England supporter, you’re understandably going to be feeling a little depressed at the moment.

There’s also the added worry that our economy is headed down the tubes – and the potential implications of the Chancellor’s emergency Budget on our finances is rather vexing (I’m still curious to know exactly what it means for me.. are you?)

Plus, now it’s Wimbledon fortnight too - so we’re going to be agonizing over Andy and fretting about the weather forecast for a while.

Thankfully, us Brits have a universal panacea to all our woes in the form of the great British cuppa.

However, just in case our manifold troubles are causing you to feel a little less patriotic than usual, I’d like to suggest a little teatime jollification. Why not celebrate British heritage by investing in one of these curiously collectable vintage royal commemorative tins from ShopCurious?

They make perfect tea caddies and are great as biscuit tins too… What’s more, these sorts of heirloom collectibles can often turn out to be quite a wise investment.

Best of all, the beaming monarchical faces adorning these splendid tins will have you gloriously grinning with pride as you sip a cup of strong tea and dunk a few biccies –

unless, perhaps, you prefer to toast Her Majesty with a glass of cider…

Do you?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Fathers' Day freebie

Happy Fathers’ Day! Did you know this is the 100th anniversary of Fathers’ Day? Sonora Louise Smart is credited with introducing the first ever Fathers’ Day in the USA in 1910 in memory of her widowed father, who single-handedly raised six children. On this auspicious occasion (hem, hem), I thought ShopCurious should offer a small giveaway aimed at our lovely gentlemen readers, or the special chap in your life.

The man who favours fashion over football will appreciate this slim volume, written in 1994 – and now updated in handy paperback form: The Englishman’s suit is Hardy Amies’ personal view of the suit’s ‘history, its place in the world today, its future and the accessories that support it.’

The book charts the evolution of the suit from the seventeenth century to the present day in narrative which ‘reveals a fascinating motley of curious and frequently amusing facts; from the arcane mysteries of button replacement to the remarkable influence of princes and kings.’

GQ describe the book as ‘part costume history, part social commentary, and part handbook for the uninitiated but aspiring.’ Enoch Powell writing for the Spectator said, ‘the nub of the philosophy of an entrepreneur who has helped to ensure that the Japanese word for man’s suit is sabiro, pronounced ‘Savile Row’. ‘

To take part in the giveaway, just comment on this post and you’ll be automatically entered into the draw, with the chance to win a free copy of this curiously entertaining and informative text. I hope you’re feeling lucky...

Are you?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Princesses and paperweights for Papa

If your father enjoys collecting, he’ll be very impressed with a gift that’s a genuine retro curiosity. However, the art of collecting is largely a matter of personal taste - so if you want to find something that’s both collectable and also likely to appeal, it’s best to have a good idea of the recipient’s taste, as well as knowing where to source authentic collectibles from.

ShopCurious has a few suggestions for you, if you’re looking for especially unique and unusual gifts for Fathers’ Day. Retro curiosity number one is this totally beautiful 1960s perspex paperweight – a unique piece of tourist memorabilia.

You can tell it’s from Portugal because, as they say, it’s written on the tin (or at least within the divinely syrupy amber resin). Also inside, is a stylish filigree carved Portuguse galleon – the perfect gift if your Dad loves fishing, fish and chips or anything to do with the sea.

If your pa’s good with his hands, he might prefer this Steampunk style retro curiosity, which should keep him curious for ages.

Just how did they get all those nuts, bolts, cogs and horological paraphernalia into that square of honey coloured perspex?

Your Dad will love this if he’s the sort of chap who’s a bit of a tinker, and tends to spend quite a lot of time in his garden shed…

Alternatively, if he’s the smooth, well travelled and worldly type, some suitably unique accessories like these curiously exotic vintage African Princess cufflinks might be the order of the day.

Whatever his personal taste, there’s no better way to flatter and amuse any man than with a curiously appropriate gift.

Will you?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Daddy's girl?

I’m still wondering what to give my Dad for Fathers’ Day. He’s recently out of hospital, recovering from an operation – and meant to be resting. I suppose sitting around reading is an ideal pastime, so a book would make an excellent present.

I thought of him immediately I saw this vintage coffee table number, filled with glamorous photographs of Marilyn Monroe.

Despite being an only child and daughter, I’ve never really been the real Daddy’s girl – my father's heart has always belonged to Marilyn. I guess it’s pretty hard to compete with a long deceased movie icon who’s a legend in her own lingerie. Anyway, this book would certainly be the perfect gift...

Except, I think his brain needs a little more stimulation..

Sorry Dad, I know retro swimwear is all the rage, but it’s time for something ‘from you to me’: ShopCurious has this curiously clever journal, requiring some careful thought and practical application, which sounds like an even more fabulous Fathers’ Day gift.

To complete the journal, Dad will have to answer some questions about his past, his family memories and wishes for the future. I can almost guarantee that Marilyn will feature somewhere on the pages he fills out, but writing the responses should keep any father nicely occupied and out of mischief (or at least Mum's way) for a while.

And I can’t wait until the book’s completed and returned to the genuine Daddy’s girl, as I’m really curious to read the uniquely individual story of my father’s life.

Are you?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hollywood hair accessories

These days, there’s no need to go overboard on the millinery front – elaborately sculpted and embellished headgear has given way to more subtly elegant hair accessories and smaller scale fascinators.

A simple, but uniquely decorated, Hollywood style headband can bring a touch of glamour to the proceedings at Summer events like weddings and Royal Ascot.

These seriously stylish hair bands by Sheena Holland at ShopCurious are handcrafted using natural fabrics, including feathers and leather - and decorated with original vintage jewellery and curiosities.

Hats can sometimes get in the way, but these are easy to wear and will take you from day into night, without having to worry about your hair getting all messed up.

You can even make your own, by buying a plain metal or velvet covered hair band and adding your own feathers, trinkets and beads.

However, leading ladies usually have far better things to do with their precious time - like posing for photographers and signing autographs...

Do you?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Spice boy, or salty old sea dog?

England expects every man to do his duty… and, whilst it’s not obligatory to have kids, being a fabulous father will certainly count in any man’s favour.

Dads are usually great at mending things and can come in handy on all sorts of occasions, especially when flat-packed furniture is involved. It’s probably because they grew up making models of ships and aircraft, and all manner of curious craft, that came in boxes with little pots of paint.

This vintage model making kit of HMS Victory is the ideal Fathers’ Day gift, especially if your Dad’s the handy DIY sort.

Alternatively, if Papa’s the smooth, sophisticated, sailing type, he’ll treasure his memories of the Grand Turk. Over the years, Old Spice containers have portrayed sixteen different ships, which is why we can date this rare and unused gift set to the late 1960s. Old Spice memorabilia is not only collectable, but the after shave smells simply divine (in a curiously old fashioned, fatherly sort of way).

Whether your father’s a fragrantly smooth sailor chap, or a ruggedly self-sufficient old sea dog, ShopCurious has some really cool and original retro gifts for Fathers’ Day.

Will you?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Gifts for the gentleman father

Over the next few days, I thought I’d feature a few books and unusual gifts for Fathers’ Day, in case you’re stuck for ideas. I think our men’s book week should start at the highest level of refinement, with Debrett’s The English Gentleman Series - a wonderful vintage boxed set of whimsical etiquette books by the late Douglas Sutherland.

The three slim volumes are written especially for men wishing to clarify the quirky eccentricities of the English gent and confirm their place amongst the English upper classes. The books are full of useful tips and advice for aspiring gentlemen too, for instance:

“A gentleman always has well polished shoes, which are handmade and last a lifetime. They are polished with ox-blood, which is a similar eccentricity to washing his riding breeches in urine.”

Apparently, no gentleman ever has a garment called a ‘sport’s jacket’, nor a blazer with a badge on the pocket (Rod Stewart, be warned), except at events like Henley, where old rowing blazers are worn.

A gentleman also carries the minimum of accessories, “Those who go around with what is know as the Cartier set – gold lighters, gold cigarette cases, watches with crocodile straps and so on are put down as bookmakers or confidence tricksters.”

I’m sure there must also be some comments on the wearing of cravats, beards and knitwear under jackets…

And I wonder what Sutherland would have made of the curious new trend of brooches for men?

The English gentleman’s mistress is the subject of one of the volumes, which should bring a smile to Dad’s face. Sutherland asks if the demise of the English gentleman means that his mistress must also be “swept away in the avalanche” of change.

Another book in the set is devoted to the gentleman’s long-suffering wife and broaches tricky topics like divorce and unmarried ladies – though stands firmly on the side of tradition and the preservation of the classic, old-fashioned English gentleman, of course.

All said and done, this curiously characterful and informative book set from ShopCurious is perfect, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced, fun Fathers’ Day present for someone with the most important prerequisite of any gentleman - a jolly good sense of humour.

Are you?

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Brace yourself for Fathers' Day

Now the Summer season is upon us, men are jazzing up their outfits with all manner of curious accessories. I’ve seen bow ties, quirky cufflinks, Panama hats, patent shoes – and quite a few pairs of designer braces.

Braces, also known as suspenders by our American friends, are often worn by the sort of men who love to be the centre of attention. They were popular in the 1920s and '30s – I’d imagine Jay Gatsby was big on braces. Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street was single handedly responsible for a lot more suspenders in the City from the late1980s. More recently, the new Dr Who, Matt Smith, also appears to be quite a fan of trouser braces.

If your father’s the extrovert type, a pair of braces may be just the unusual sort of gift he'd appreciate. Of course, the braces would have to be suitably original – and I think we’ve got just the thing at ShopCurious…

Our curiously unique Boa Brummell braces by ORWOT! are made by Albert Thurston of Leicester, the oldest braces manufacturer in the world.

Handcrafted in England, the luxury braces are embellished with a real gold or silver snake - individually hand embroidered by the same firm that has worked for the last eight Kings and Queens of England.

Each pair of bejewelled Boa Brummells comes with a choice of button hooks, or specially engraved clips. What’s more, the snake’s eyes are made from real precious gem stones that twinkle in the light, which should set off Dad's evening attire a treat.... And they're guaranteed to hold up his trousers too.

Order now and we promise a pair will be with your pere in time for Fathers’ Day - 20th June. Go on, make it a day he'll never forget.

Will you?